Beyond the ‘Republican’ Economy: Hayek and Pettit on Private Property

Republican political theorists have spilled a lot of ink in the attempt to present ‘republicanism’ as a distinctive alternative to liberalism. The landmark book is, of course, Philip Pettit’s Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government, published in 1997. I have written about some of the problems of republicanism on this blog (here, here and … More Beyond the ‘Republican’ Economy: Hayek and Pettit on Private Property

Conservatism and the Crisis of the Republic

This is an extract from Cicero’s legal defense of Sestius, delivered in 56 BCE. Cicero is often considered to be the founding father of ‘republicanism’ but has influenced the likes of Edmund Burke and Friedrich von Hayek. In the speech, he articulates the conservative program for defending the republic against ‘populist’ reform. The names and … More Conservatism and the Crisis of the Republic

Debt and Democracy

While this was written by Cicero in 44 BCE, after the assassination of Caesar and a year before Antony had Cicero murdered, the sentiment can be heard in today’s Republicans–particularly those associated with the Tea Party. Any attempt at redistribution, according to Cicero, threatens the very foundation of the republic, which, he points out, was … More Debt and Democracy

Republicanism and wage-labour

In a previous post, I presented a criticism of republicanism’s inability to adequately address the problems of power exerted in the modern capitalist economy. This should come as no surprise really, given that the republican notion of liberty as ‘non-domination’ was articulated within the context of pre-capitalist economies characterized by the employment of dependent forms … More Republicanism and wage-labour

Republicans against Hayek

I’ve been re-reading Philip Pettit’s book Republicanism after having recently read most of Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty. What is striking about Pettit’s book is the seemingly wilful neglect of Hayek’s conceptualization of liberty. In fact, in his republican critique of negative liberty, Pettit neglects to address either, The Constitution of Liberty or Law, Legislation … More Republicans against Hayek

Cicero, Roman Republicanism and the Contested Meaning of Libertas

Despite the growing interest in neo-Roman republicanism, few republicans examine the character of Roman republicanism, either in its constitutional practice, its social relations or in the works of its primary defenders. This article examines Cicero’s two systematic dialogues of political philosophy – De Re Publica and De Legibus – in order to assess the status … More Cicero, Roman Republicanism and the Contested Meaning of Libertas

The Invention of Market Freedom

Eric MacGilvray’s book, The Invention of Market Freedom (Cambridge University Press, 2011) presents a compelling and convincing narrative of the historical eclipse of the republican conception of freedom by the more familiar market conception of freedom in the context of the synthesis of liberal and republican thought in the late eighteenth century. The crux of the argument is that … More The Invention of Market Freedom

Domination and Dependence: Republicanism and the Market

In a previous post, I discussed republicanism’s problematic obfuscation of class. The point I tried to make was that republicanism’s core concept – that liberty is a form of non-domination or independence from the will’s of others – attains its coherence only at a level of abstraction that obscures the class realities that comprise any … More Domination and Dependence: Republicanism and the Market

Republicanism and the Obfuscation of Class

For a number of years now, I’ve been reading and writing about republicanism. Not the republicanism of the Republican party, but rather republican political thought. In particular, the neo-Roman republican tradition being researched so extensively by the intellectual historian Quentin Skinner and the political philosopher Philip Pettit. I can’t quite recall why or how I … More Republicanism and the Obfuscation of Class